James Clavell’s epic tale of feudal Japan is returning to TV in a new adaptation from FX. Expect samurai, ninja, complex family dynamics, exploration of religion, deadly politics and a shipwrecked Englishman out of his depth in the 1600s.
Here’s all we know so far about Shogun.
When is the release date for Shogun?
Although FX announced back in August 2018 that it was making a new version of Shogun (it was originally made into a mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain back in the 1980s), it looks like the show is only just beginning its main production run.
All of the recent news has revolved around casting appointments, so you should expect Shogun to arrive in 2022 rather than before the end of this year.
What is the plot of Shogun?
Shogun is the third instalment of Clavell’s Asian saga, all of which chart the impact and relationships of European/Americans and the Japanese. Preceded by King Rat (1962) and Tai Pan (1966), Shogun (1975) is set much earlier than the other books.
It tells the story of English sailor John Blackthorne, who is shipwrecked near Izu Peninsula, on the south-western coast of Japan, making him the first Englishman to reach the country.
He enters a world where family houses vie for power, with the ultimate goal being that of becoming the Shogun - the leader of Japan. Blackthorne is taken into the household of Toronaga, one of the heads of a family, and is then witness to the assent of his new ‘master’ and the palace intrigue that it involves. Here he meets the enigmatic and mysterious Lady Mariko, a female samurai from a dishonoured house who is torn between love and duty.
Set against the backdrop of an emerging civil war, Shogun is a huge tale of love, honour, culture, power, and more.
The story is loosely based on the real-life rise to power of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 1600s, aided by his shipwrecked advisor William Adams, who was not only the first Englishman to reach Japan but also to attain the status of samurai.
Who are the cast and crew of Shogun?
Variety recently confirmed that two of the main characters of the show, Toronaga and Blackthorne, will be played respectively by Hiroyuki Sanada (Army of the Dead, Avengers: Endgame, Westworld) and Cosmo Jarvis (Peaky Blinders, Raised by Wolves, Lady Macbeth). There’s no word yet on who will portray Lady Mariko.
In an official announcement at the Disney Investors Day 2020, John Landgraf (FX Chairman), stated, "We’ll be embarking on one of the most sweeping, sophisticated and adult series FX has ever created - a retelling of James Clavell’s beloved epic saga, Shōgun.
"Set within the riveting and real Game of Thrones that was Feudal Japan, it is adapted by Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo. Tim Van Patten, the highly decorated, award-winning producer of The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, and the director of the pilot and early episodes of Game of Thrones, has signed on to bring this giant and visceral canvas to life."
So, you can see that there is plenty of talent involved in the production. One question mark that still remains is whether shooting will be delayed once more. Covid has obviously had a huge impact on filming across the industry, but the summer Olympics are also due to take place in Japan in 2021, so we hope this doesn’t mean Shogun has to wait even longer to tell its epic story.
Where can I watch Shogun?
As FX is now partnering with Disney and Hulu, it’s most likely that you’ll need a subscription to the Disney+ streaming platform to watch the show in most parts of the world.
Those in the US with access to Hulu should hopefully be able to access it though that service as well.
Of course, if you can’t wait for the show to arrive, you can always buy the book on Amazon and get a head start.